Industrial PCs (IPCs) are evolving and gaining more market traction from the Internet of Things to enable connected applications and services. IPCs are by no means new but the growing IoT solution requirements for distributed processing, connectivity, and security are breathing new life into the device class. Beyond more traditional embedded control applications, IPCs are helping fill the gap between intelligent “things” and edge servers or the cloud.
End users deploy IPCs for a variety of applications to enable new functionality ranging automation, control, communications, and more. For example, IoT gateways are a leading application for embedded box IPCs today. Several other form factors continue to permeate the IPC market including panel IPCs, DIN rail IPCs, and rackmount IPCs as well for various deployment scenarios and environments. However, as with a growing number of embedded hardware device classes, differentiation is increasingly derived from supporting software resources and development tools.
The IPC market is highly fragmented with a long tail of suppliers, including leading embedded hardware suppliers such as Advantech, ADLINK, Dell, and Kontron in addition to industrial giants like Rockwell Automation and Schneider Electric. Baseline embedded resources and feature sets for IPC products continue to grow because of both competitive pressure as well as deepening industry requirements for performance, power consumption, reliability, and ruggedization. The commoditization of IPCs will lead to further competitive and pricing pressures in the market, which will fuel consolidation among suppliers.
IPCs are leading the charge for more distributed intelligence closer to connected systems given their generally compact and ruggedized form factors, high-performance processors, expanded memory, rich operating systems (e.g., Linux or Windows mostly), and broad interface support. Suppliers are making it progressively easier for OEMs and systems integrators to build intelligent nodes using more PC-like hardware and software. IPCs will remain instrumental to broader IoT adoption and deployments for the next several years.
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